UVA Darden students spend the day renovating houses for those in need

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Many students take the weekend to put down their textbooks and relax, but on Saturday, dozens of students from the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business used their weekend to pick up paintbrushes and give back to the Charlottesville community.

Hundreds of donations and thousands of dollars went into a partnership between the Darden School and the Building Goodness Foundation, all to fix up houses around the city.

MBA candidate Lewis Nelson and other students spent countless hours remodeling eight houses, just like the one his team focused on in Belmont.

"It's about public service," said Nelson. "It's also about learning the value of coming out and how important it is from a business standpoint, about giving back to the community and understanding the key stakeholders in your environment."

Between sanding the fence, prepping for paint and gutting the kitchen, it's a big and complex job, and the student volunteers weren't on their own. They had help from construction professionals like Stuart Squire.

"We'll take a a day to demolish the kitchen and then after that we'll come back for subsequent things," said Squire. "Putting the flooring down, putting the cabinets down, putting the counter tops in, fixtures, and appliances, kind of in that order."

The project is called Building Goodness April, but it's not just any old home that is renovated. These are low-income homes or nonprofits in need.

Originally one of the first homes in Belmont, the home Nelson's team worked on is now used by the nonprofit Bridgeline, which assists people with brain injuries. Like many nonprofits, the organization's pockets aren't deep.

"It saves us, in this case, probably thousands of dollars," said Bridgeline Executive Director Daniela Pretzer. "Meaning I can take that money and put it in direct services to our residents."

Some of the volunteers also brought their kids along to help, hoping to inspire on a generation of giving.

"Putting them to work and that to me is kind of exciting," said Nelson. "They're getting their first hands-on experience of public service."

This is the 25th year for Darden's Build Days, which was originally named Christmas in April prior to the partnership with Building Goodness.

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